Opponents see high-rise
hotel proposals as threat
to character of the island
| Sarasota Herald-Tribune
SIESTA KEY – The days of Siesta Key’s reputation as a quaint yet quirky island community might soon be over.
Three developers have lined up to pore over paperwork with Sarasota County planners, pitching what might become, if approved by elected officials, a beach hotel renaissance on Siesta that opponents fear would fundamentally change the character life along the Gulf of Mexico.
Two of the three are asking the county to throw out current density and height requirements to make room for seven-story beach resorts. The proposals also include changes to the zoning regulations could allow for much higher development densities.
“This opens the floodgates for other intense development on the key,” said Mark Spiegel, a representative of the Beach Villa at the Oasis.
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Spiegel is part of a growing consortium of homeowners associations, condominium councils and other organizations that have joined to oppose the projects.
Here’s a glimpse of the proposals; they are all within blocks of each other and are still in the county’s development review process:
- Mike Holderness wants to expand his Siesta Key Resort on Ocean Boulevard from 55 to 170 rooms.
- Robert Anderson wants a second Village hotel with its entrance on Calle Miramar. The 170-room, seven-story hotel would replace existing single-story buildings. It also calls for a 223-space parking garage, a restaurant and a rooftop pool and bar. Traffic is proposed to come and go along Calle Miramar.
- Gary Kompathecras wants to build a seven-story, 120-room hotel at Siesta Key’s south entry on Old Stickney Point and Peacock Roads. The proposed structure would sit on a little over one acre.
Siesta Key’s charm has long been protected by a set of policies, restrictions and building codes.
Those regulations affect hotel accommodations, limit building heights, control building density and setbacks. The proposed changes, if approved by elected officials, could impact protections of other county barrier islands.
It would set a “dangerous precedent,” Spiegel said.
While Anderson’s and Kompathecras’ hotels would exceed the 35-foot height restriction on Siesta Key, all three developers want special exceptions to raise the permitted height to 83 to 85 feet.
Developers are also asking for another important change: Hotels on the barrier islands are limited to 13 rooms an acre or 26 an acre without a kitchen. More than 100 rooms per acre are proposed for each of the three hotels.
To do that, the county would need to change zoning regulations and eliminate any restriction or allow much higher densities.
So far, no public hearings have been scheduled on any of the proposals.
Opposing the projects is a group calling itself the Siesta Key Coalition. The group has grown to include representatives of a dozen homeowners associations, the leadership of the Siesta Key Condominium Council and the Siesta Key Association. Collectively, the group represents